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Lake Brunner: Explore The Breathtaking Hidden Gem Of South Island, NZ

Lake Brunner, a magnificent lake with a backdrop of mountains and ancient woodland, is well worth the short trip from Greymouth on the West Coast. On the lake’s northern beaches is the little village of Moana, a close-knit hamlet with an outstanding pub worth visiting to meet the friendly inhabitants. Here are all you need to know before visiting the stunning lake of Moana, NZ – Lake Brunner.

Lake Brunner: The West Coast’s Largest Lake


Lake Brunner is a vacation resort with a wide range of water and land-based activities. Moana, NZ is only 37 kilometers inland from Greymouth and is served daily by the TranzAlpine train and a variety of shuttle vehicles.

If you have a few hours or a few days, this is a terrific place to go exploring. There are several treks in the neighborhood that range in length from 20 minutes to 8 hours.

Lake Brunner is the largest lake in New Zealand’s northeastern South Island, covering 39 km2. It was carved out by a branch of the Taramakau Glacier and is one of a group of lakes in the Grey River basin that includes Poerua, Kangaroo, Lady, Haupiri, Hochstetter, and Ahaura.

The Crooked, Orangipuku, and Eastern Hohonu rivers, as well as a number of lesser tributaries, feed the lake. The Arnold River, a tributary of the Grey River, is its outflow. The Lake Brunner area is rich in bird life and is home to various wetland and rainforest environments.

The Meaning of The Name

The lake’s Maori name is Kotuku Whakaoho, which translates as “sea of herons.” The current name honors Thomas Brunner, the first European to view the lake during his epic 550-day expedition of the region with Kehu and other Maori guides in 1848.

What to do in and near Lake Brunner, Moana, NZ

Brown Trout fishing


Year-round fishing, wild brown trout, a beautiful lake… What else do you require?! Brown trout in Lake Brunner weigh about 1-2kg on average (3-4lbs). Bring your own fishing gear and a fishing license, and try your luck on the Arnold River and lake, or hire a local fishing guide to take you out on the water. Fishing guides can be booked at the Moana lodgings.

Take the Bain Bay Track and the Carew Falls Trail


Lake Brunner is surrounded by beautiful hiking and walking trails. The Bain Bay Track is one of the highlights. This 2-hour return trek to Bain Bay follows boardwalks through the old native forest. At Bain Bay, you’ll find timber mill relics, a historic jetty (or what’s left of it), and panoramic lake vistas. Begin the 1-hour return Carew Falls Track from the same location, gently ascending to a spectacular cascade.

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Train Ride Through Arthur’s Pass National Park


Moana and Lake Brunner are both beginning (and terminating) points for the TranzAlpine Train, which connects Greymouth and Christchurch. Take the train from Moana and enjoy spectacular views as you go through Arthur’s Pass and the Southern Alps. The travel takes about 4 hours. The railway has open-air viewing carriages as well as a cafe. Learn more about the voyage on the New Zealand Train Network.

Pay a visit to the historic Jack’s Mill School


Jack’s Mill School, one of the area’s oddest historic sites, was built and furnished entirely by schoolchildren. Edward Darracott, the school’s headteacher in 1935, was noted for giving his students alternate hands-on assignments. First, the pupils aged 10 to 12 were asked to design their own house, complete with a bathroom and a full kitchen. The bungalow was finished in 1955 and included running water and electricity. The buildings are open on Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. Otherwise, there are numerous photo opportunities on the school grounds.

See also Glowworms


Discover a glowworm cave that is directly accessible from Moana! After midnight, take the Velenski Track and look for small clusters of glowworms. The track takes about 30 minutes to finish both ways. It’s one of New Zealand’s ten free glowworm caves.

Tips for walking in Lake Brunner

The safety and equipment requirements for the walks and tracks in this area vary substantially.

While the shorter hikes can be completed in regular clothing and footwear, the longer trails necessitate the use of special equipment. This is especially true of the path from the lookouts on Ara O Te Kinga to the summit of the mountain, as well as the entire Mt French, Crooked, and Camp Creek climbs. These slopes are steep and slippery in spots, and even on clear days, the summits can soon become obscured, making navigating on the harsh tops challenging.

Wear durable footwear (preferably boots), bring warm, waterproof clothing, and bring extra snacks, drinking water, and equipment for a full-day hike. Take a map if you plan on exploring the tops.

Even if you’re only walking a short distance, tell someone you trust where you’re going and when you expect to return. Longer tracks, such as Bain Bay and any part of Ara O Te Kinga, Mt French, and the other routes surrounding the area, require it.

How to get Lake Brunner, Moana, NZ

Greymouth is 37 kilometers away from Lake Brunner. Drive 14 kilometers inland from Greymouth on SH7 until you reach Stillwater. Drive till you reach Lake Brunner, then turn right onto the route to Moana and Inchbonnie.

Lake Brunner can also be reached by taking the Lake Brunner Rd off SH73 between Christchurch and the West Coast at Jacksons. Jacksons is 45 kilometers inland from Kumara Junction.

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Lake Brunner weather


On the peaks, the weather can change quickly. Even little streams can become dangerous to cross when it rains. It is best to check for the most recent weather and track information before setting out. Bad weather can sometimes make the lake’s surface choppy.

Here are all you need to know before visiting Lake Brunner. What are you waiting for? Come here now to enjoy your wonderful travel! Please give your feedback by leaving a comment below!

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